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Listed below are probably all the variations in the spelling of the family name, and these variations occur not only in the names of different persons, but often in documents pertaining to the same individual. Children might spell it differently from their parents. Records of birth, marriage and death of the same person sometimes had different spelling.
Tharlay Thorlay Thurloe
Tharley Thorlla Thurly
Tharly Thorley Thuriel
Thirla Thorrel Thurril
Thirill Thurlo Thurells
Thirlo Thurlow Thurell
Thorla Thurley Thirrel
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The following information is excerpted from SOME NEWBURY THURLOWS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS by Philip Sawyer Lacy, 1968.
The story of Richard Thorlay, this family's earliest American ancestor, begins in the little town of Rowley,
Essex County, Massachusetts.
Rowley was settled in 1639 by the Rev. Ezekiel Rogers and a small band of English immigrants hailing mainly from
Yorkshire, England. Landing in 1638 at Salem from the ship John of London, they moved to a coastal area between Ipswich,
on the south and Newbury on the north, both of these towns having been settled at an earlier date. Rowley received its
name by an act of General Court in 1639
The earlier settling of Newbury, adjacent to Rowley, was in accordance with the policy of the Bay Colony to occupy lands
further north along the coast, in order to take physical possession of territory to which France also held claim.
So that, in 1633 the General Court granted liberty to Mr. John Winthrop Jr. to set up a trading house upon the Merrrimac
River. The first of the permanent settlers of Newbury removed from Ipswich in the spring of 1635, and consisted of twenty
three men and their pastor. Sixteen vessels arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony within three months of this first
movement toward Newbury, and a large number of these immigrants came immediately to that settlement.
It should be realized that between the years of 1630 and 1643 thousands of immigrants arrived from England to settle in
the New England area. Charles M. Andrews in his "Colonial Period of American History" states that by 1642, 16,000 to
20,000 people had settled in the New England colonies, and, in addition to their coming, there were already living along
the New England shore many individuals and small groups of colonists who were remnants of previous unsuccessful attempts
at colonization, and descendants of early fishing folk, who decided to stay in America rather than return to England.
During this period, nearly two hundred ships left England for Massachusetts.
The shipping lists of a large proportion of these vessels which came from England have been lost or destroyed, and this
adds to the difficulty of establishing the dates of arrival of so many of the colonists.
It was to Rowley, probably just months after its settlement in 1639, that Richard Thorlay came with wife Jane and family.
There is no record of the date of arrival, though it is safe to assume that the ship which brought him to these shores
dropped anchor in the vicinity of Salem or Boston. We do know that he settled in Rowley no later than Feb. 1, 1640, as
the town records in Rowley give that date as the birth date of his daughter Lydia.
Richard was given two acres of land in the town of Rowley. The location of these two acres, and of his house which was
built upon them are very well established. In the survey of Rowley, ordered Nov. 10, 1643, Richard Thorlay had "a house
lott containeinge two acres on Weathersfield street, bounded on the West side by Mr. Edward Carltons house lott and on
the South end by the streete".
These two acres did not comprise the total property owned by Richard. At various times were recorded new alotments of
property made to him by the town, and in these various divisions, about nine in all, there were assigned to him a total
of about 27 acres of meadow and marsh land.
At present no trace remains of Richard's house, nor of the house that was built on the site, about 1700 by Samuel Johnson,
son of Capt. John Johnson who earlier bought the property from Richard. This last house was taken down in 1893.
At the court held at Ipswich Jan. 28, 1648, Rich Thorlay of Rowlye was made a freeman. This means that he was a member of
a Congregational Church and had taken the freeman's oath of allegiance to the Crown, and was thereby entitled to vote.
On Dec. 1, 1651 Richard Thorlay sold his house lot in Rowley to Capt. John Johnson and removed to Newbury, a few miles
north, on the north bank of the Parker River.
When John Clarke, the original owner of the property left Newbury in 1647 to live in Ipswich, he had made a recording of
his Newbury property, as follows:
The following was recorded for Mr. John Clarke, late of Newbury, the 8th day of March, 1647:
"A farme granted to Mr. Clarke of 400 acres next to Mr. Sewalls; The bounds of Mrs. Clarke his fairme begin at the mouth
of Carte creeke thence running easterly ten score rodd abutting on the Mayne river toward the South & thence it runs up
sixteene score rodds into the country upon a line north & by west to two birchen trees marked, standing upon a bande of
rocks, thence it runs in a straight line westerly ten score rodd to a marked tree on a mount & thence in a straight line
east & by South to the mouth of Cart creeke againe taking in all the meadow on the east side of the Pine Swamp.
the 23rd of the 11th mo 1637"
The deed of sale of Dr. Clarke's property reads as follows: "December 1, 1651. John Clarke of Boston, Chirugeon, and
Martha, his wife in consideratiin of the house they nnw occupy in Boston, and a certain lot of land adjoining,
'convey to Matthew Chaffey of Boston, shipwright, the farm of four hundred acres at Cart creeke in Newbury' "
On the same day, Matthew Chaffey of Boston, and Sarah, his wife, sold the farm 'with all the housings and buildings
theron to Richard Thorlay of Newbury' ".
The price Richard paid for the property was 155 pounds.
With the purchase of this property Richard Thorlay became a freeholder, or proprietor. This means a person entitled by
grant, purchase or inheritance to share in the common or undivided lands of Newbury. Frequent mention is made of the
sale or purchase of freehold rights in the first volume of the Proprietors' Records of Newbury. On March, 1651 a
committee was chosen, consisting of the selectmen, "three commissioners for small causes" and Richard Knight, to settle
all claims arising from the sale or purchase of freehold rights. The committee reported:
"These persons heer under mentioned are acknowledged to be ffreeholders and to have an interest in all comons belonging
to the Towne as having lawfully purchased theyr privileges from such as had the privileges estated to them by the Towne"
(The list of names includes Richard Thurlo from Mr. Clarke)
On April 1, 1652, a year after moving to Newbury, Richard Thorley sold to John Remington Jr., carpenter, "eight acres
of land and a half" in Rowley, "lying in a plaine called the great Plaine, bounded on the south east side by the land
of Francis Parrat and on the north west side by the land of William Acie the one end abutting within a rod of the fence,
the other end upon a swamp."
Richard Thorlay served on the Jury of Trials at Ipswich on July 30, 1651, and on the Grand Jury at Ipswich on July 27, 1653.
His Yankee business sense led him to capitalize on his location of the Parker River, and he built a bridge over it at the
corner of his property. His name is perpetuated in the name of this bridge he built. There are many references to
Thorlay's bridge in the court records of the day. To quote one of them:
"May 3, 1654. The General Court voted that Richard Thorlay having built a bridge, at his owne cost over Newbury River,
hath liberty to take 2d. for every horse, cow, oxe or any other great cattle, as also one half peny a peece for every
hogg, sheep or goat that shall pass over the s'd bridge, as long as he shall well & sufficyetly repayre & Mayntayne the
same, pvided that passengers shal be free."
An amusing consequence of his building this bridge was the recording that in May 18, 1664, Samuel Plummer was granted
liberty to "take one penny more than formerly for the passage of each person & each beast that he shall transport"
(over the ferry at Oldtown) to compensate him for the loss of travel occasioned by the building of Thorlay's bridge
over Parker River.
As originally built, the bridge's girders were squared tree trunks from virgin timber, its planking roughly hewn boarding.
Today, in order to support modern loads, unobtrusive steel girders with concrete floor slab span the stream. But this
modern work does not destroy the appearance of antiquity, and the rough stone abutments seem to be and could very well be
the original bridge supports dating back over three hundred years.
As one overlooks the panorama of the bridge, the tortuous winding of the Parker River, tidal at this point, the wide
stretches of marsh meadow flanking it on either side, it is easy to believe he is looking at a scene of centuries ago.
The upland slopes of only a few feet in elevation, adjacent to the river and marsh land are no longer covered by the
forest primeval, but the present growth of timber still satisfies the illusion.
In those days, communication between towns was by woodland path, or, at best, wagon tracks; and the time came when
people petitioned the Court at Ipswich for the construction of a road from Rowley to Newburyport. After much debate
in the court, with committees formed to investigate its best location, the route was decided in favor of a road passing
over Richard Thorlay's bridge. All the debate over this route and an alternate route is contained in the records of the
Ipswich Quarterly Courts, as was the occasional recording at later dates of repair work on both road and bridge.
Evidence that Richard had owned other property in Newbury is given in Ipswich Deeds. On May 1, 1662 Henry Sewall and
wife Jane sold, among other parcels of real estate, to Samuel Worster of Salsbury, "100 acres of upland, lately purchased
of Richard Thurley, butting on the Merrimac River....."
Court records from which we obtain so much knowledge of the life of the early colonists, show that he took a normally
active part in the life of the community. He served as witness and as juror in the Ipswich Quarterly Courts.
That he had a servant on his farm is proven by the notice of the death in 1664 of James Parks, servant to Richard Tharley.
His three daughters, Mary, Lydia & Martha, all having left the home, were omitted in the division of his farm about ten
years before his death, between his two sons, Francis and Thomas. This division, in which he retained for himself only a
small portion, was recorded in minute detail in Ipswich Deeds. The dividing line between the portion acquired by Francis
on the west and Thomas on the east, marked the eastern boundary of the Newbury portion of Byfield Parish when the parish
was set off on Oct. 21, 1706.
He became a selectman of Newbury.
In his final will he divided the remainder of his property between his sons Francis and Thomas, his freehold to both sons,
and to his son Francis, his right in Plumb Island, Rowley Division.
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FRANCIS THARLAY (son of Richard)
Francis Tharlay was made a freeman on Sept. 27, 1670. He took part as plaintiff, defendant and witness in many court
actions. On March 25, 1673, Frances Thurlay presented (was tried) for striking his brother Thomas Thurlay and flinging
stones at him, one of which hit him. He was fined.
In 1670 at the age of 48, ffrancis Thurley took the oath of allegiance in Newbury
In the list of expenses for the militia, in the court records, was included the amount given Fra. Thurla.
It was recorded that Francis Tharley was paid 1 li. 5s for repairing the bridge over the Newbury River.
In the tax list for 1688, ffranc Thurlo was taxed for 2 Heads (of family), 1 House, 18 (acres) plow lands, 10 meadow,
18 Pastr., 2 oxen, 2 cows, 1,2 yr old, 1,1 yr old, 10 sheep, 2 hoggs.
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THOMAS THARLAY (son of Richard)
Thomas Tharley, second child of Richard Thorlay had a small family for those days, two sons and three daughters. One of
his sons died in his late teens, leaving only George to carry on the family name. As was stated in the life of Richard,
his father, he was given and was willed roughly one half his father's estate, originally four hundred acres, in Newbury
on the banks of the Parker River.
All was not serene in his father's family, and we can assume that manners and customs were much rougher than at present.
Law suits seemed to be an every day occurrence, and it is from court records that we get much of the information on the
original settlers of Massachusetts. We have already read in the biography of Thomas' brother Francis, of how Thomas
sued Francis for hitting him with a stone. This would hardly seem normal procedure at the present day, for two brothers,
each about fifty years old.
He was called on at times in the Ipswich Quarterly Courts as a witness in law suits. Once, he and others were "severely
admonished for fallacy and unwariness" by the court when testifying under oath. On March 26, 1667, Thomas brought suit
against the town of Newbury for unpaid bounty in connection with the killing of seven wolves. He won the case.
On Mar. 26, 1677, he undertook to pay off the fine of his brother-in-law, John Woolcott, who, for counseling to steal
away a writing from Mr. Nelson was ordered to be whipped or pay a fine.
On Nov. 29, 1670 the Salem Quarterly Count allowed Thomas pay for the work he did about the county bridge. Salem Court,
Nov. 24, 1674. Thomas Chadwick, aged about twenty six years deposed that Daniel Clarke agreed with Thomas Thorley to
live with him as a servant for two years, and this was done of his own accord. Thomas Thorla testified the same.
In 1675 there was in interruption in his daily life. An entry in the "Diary of Sewall" (a neighbor of his), stated:
"Two troopers pressed to go against the Indians: Noyes, Tho Thurrill".
As stated in New England Register, V 37,p.284-5, Thomas Tharly served in King Philip's War in Capt. Nicholas Paige's
troop at Mount Hope. He was one of thirty five who were impressed for service. Quoting from the Register, "In June,
1675, Capt. Nicholas Paige was appointed captain of a troop to accompany Major Thomas Savage in the expedition to
Mount Hope, took part in the movement there; accompanied the army to Narragansett and back, and then returned to Boston
with Maj. Savage and disbanded his men, and there is no farther account of any service (of Capt. Paige) in the war".
"At the opening of the war the colonial militia was quite efficiently organized. Each county had its regiment of
'trained soldiers'.... The Essex regiment was of 13 Foot and one of Cavalry. These local companies were not sent on
active service out of their towns, but men were impressed from the number and placed under officers appointed for
special service by the council. Each company of Foot had a Captain, Lieutenant, Ensign, Clerk, Sergeants, Corporals
and a Drummer. Cavalry had Cornett instead of Ensign, and a Trumpeter and Quartermaster. The pay of soldiers was
6s. per week, and 5s. was paid for their 'dyet'...."
"On the Mt. Hope expedition many used the Old Matchlock musket, the 'Regulation' weapon of that time, but it was soon
discarded as not so serviceable as the Flintlock or 'Snaphance'. There were no bayonets in use, but each company had at
first a number of Pikemen, soon found to be useless in an Indian fight. The 'Matchlock' was an exceedingly cumbrous affair,
and was too long and heavy to fire at arms length, so that each soldier was obliged to carry a 'rest'
(crotched staff pointed at the foot with iron and attached to his wrist by a string). No. 7 of the orders in musket drill,
'Elton's Tactics', was 'Put the string of your rest about your left wrist'. The Indians always used the Flintlock."
"The equipment of a foot soldier were a 'Snapsack', six feet of match or fuse, a Bandoleer, which was a leather belt
passing over the right shoulder and under the left arm, and containing a dozen or more round boxes each holding one
charge of powder; a bag of bullets, and a horn of priming powder was also attached to the belt"
Nov. 6, 1678. Ipswich Quarter Court. Judith Thula complained of for letting the Indians have liquor on the Lord's
day was fined. Thomas Woodbridge aged about twenty nine years testified that he heard Judith wife of Tho. Thurla
vainly swear by God divers times within a twelfth month. Sworn in Court. Thomas Woodbridge demanded 10s for his wife's
Examination dated Aug. 28, 1678, of Job the Indian:
"That Judith bid the young man (who was John Thurley) looke out the runlett in w'ch the liquors was. that the sayd John
having found it, brought it down & sett it on the dresser. That there was a gill of Rum first drunke before they had
that mixed with water. That John powred the Rum into the basin & Judith stirringe it with a spoone, the half pint
was powred into the water. That Judith fetched some suger, put it in & stirred it together & when it mixed, she tooke
up some in a porringer. He thinks Tim Collins was not in the house, when the Rum was powred into the basin but was
gone to look after the child, & came not in till they had done & Joseph & he were gone out; but John tarryed behind & he
was appointed to pay for it but whether he payd for it or no, he knoweth not. That after they were gone out Tom and John
Timothy Collins and Judith Thurley testified that on a Sabbath day about three weeks ago, four Indians came into
Thurley's house and asked for a drink and she denied it to them. John Thurley told Judith that if she would give him
leave he would undertake to find it. He got it and put it on the dresser and said she might let them have some. She
said she dared not and sat down again to reading. Thereupon John poured it into the half pint pot, set it on the table
and the Indians drank it, etc. Sworn Aug 13, 1678 before Jo. Woodbridge, Commissisoner.
John Thurley, aged above eighteen years and Jonathan aged above sixteen years, deposed that they came in the house of
their aunt Judith Thurley when one Indian came in and asked after Mr. Longfellow's (negro?) and went out and brought
in three more who sat down and lighted their pipes. Judith told them that her husband had hidden the liquor and she
could not find it. The Indians continuing to ask for it, she told Jonathan to look in the woodpile and speak to John
to go up into the chamber to look in a butt of wheat. He found it behind the chimney and handed it to Judith who
reaching a horn poured some of it out and the Indians drank. She then sent Timothy out of doors to look after the child.
She refused to let the Indians have any more clear rum but they should have it mixed with water and brought some sugar
out of the parlor. When they had drunk it all, Judith said to one who remained that she was afraid he would be fuddled
but he said that if he should drink all day, he would not be fuddled. He took off his coat and left it there and went
away. When John and Jonathan were going home they met the Indians quarreling and one of them came towards them with a
hatchet. They not knowing what he said, one of the others came and told them that he wanted them to take the hatchet
for fear someone might take it from him by force but they would not meddle with it. Two of the Indians went to the falls
and the other two came toward the town. Sworn Aug. 16, 1678, before Jo. Woodbridge, commissioner.
May 4, 1680, Ipswich Q.Ct. Tho: Thuley, for excessive drinking is fined.
The Court having considered the agreement between Capt. Daniell Pearse and Henry Jaquis of the one part and Thomas
Thurley on the other about the bridge, which was allowed by Salem Court, declared that said Thurley was to give diligent
attention that no person be hindered or delayed in his passage more than is necessary for his coming from the house to
the bridge, and if he did not he was to be called to account. Also no one was to be refused passage for want of ready
money, especially of this county of Essex, if they would give just security for the payment.
May 4, 1680, Ipswich Q.Ct. Wheras Daniewell Clark agreed with Thomas Thorlle to serve him and he had served him the
full time although Thorlle claimed he had not, said Clark left it to the court to determine.
Thomas was taxed in 1688, as follows: Thomas Thulo - 2 Heads, 4 Houses, 16 Plow Lands, 16 Meadow, 20 Pastr, 3 Horses,
4 Cows, 4 3yr olds, 2 2yr olds, 1 1yr old, 10 sheep, 1 hogg. This is a far cry from the original one half of four
hundred acres given him by his father Richard. There is record made of a sale on May 14, 1690 by F. Thurlo and Thomas
Thurlo, planters, to John Hale, house carpenter, lott no. 48 in upper woods, laid out to Mr. John Clarkes freehold.
On Sept. 30, 1695 Thomas Thurloe sold to Edward Sargent, land bounded easterly on the Merrimack River and northerly on
land of Hugh March, (his father-in-law) and Capt. John March. So that there is evidence that the family's dealings in
real estate comprised more than the land in the original purchase by Richard Thorlay along the Parker River.
On Jan. 1701-2 he signed the petition presented to the inhabitants of the Town of Newbury, asking that a thousand acres
of land might be granted and laid out to the soldiers who had served in the Indian Wars of 1675, 1676, and 1677.
Small wonder, as he himself was impressed to serve in 1675.
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WILL OF THOMAS THURLAY
To my son George Thurlay having confirmed to him as by deed will appear a Considerable Estate in Lands I now only give
him five shillings to be allowed him out of what he is in my debt. All the Rest of my Estate both Reall & Psonall in
the s'd Towne of Newberry or Elsewhere I give and bequeath to Mary & Judith Tharlay my two daughters to be equally
divided betwixt them & If Either of my s'd daughters shall depart this life before the time of Marriage or the age of
Eighteen years or without heirs of their body lawfully begotten I give the Lands hereby bequeathed to the other and her
heirs & ye Moveable Estate as Either of them shall dispose being arrived at ye age aforesaid or being Married:
And my will is I hereby give grant and assigne unto them all my Right Title Intrest & demand In the two bills which
their said bro'th Georg hath obliged himself & his heirs to pay or Cause to be payd to me or my assignes bearing date
the thirtieth of March sixteen hundred Ninety & four: the first payable in ye year of our Lord one thousand seaven
hundred: the second payable in the year of our Lord one thousand seaven hundred & four: being each bill fourscore
pounds to be Equally divided as other Estate betwixt them If liveing or els the Surviver to have ye whole except ye
five shillings. Appoint my beloved bro'th John Dressar* of Rowley Lieut. to be sole executor. Dated 7 Apr. 1696.
Proved July 6, 1713
* actually brother-in-law, husband of Martha.
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Not too much is known about George Thurloe, son of Thomas Tharlay and Judith (March) Tharley. He was born in Newbury,
married Mary Adams, daughter of Sergt. Abraham and Mary (Pettingell) Adams, and probably died Jan. 17, 1713.
Document concerning the disposition of the estate of George. "Thomas Thorla, George Thorla, heirs to the Mary Thorla
estate of our Hond. Father George Thorla, late of Newbury, deceased. Mother Mary to have her dower also 1/3 of Fruit
of Appletrees for nine years to come.
Wit. Samuel Robinson, John Pike.
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Thomas Thurlow, son of George & Mary (Adams) Thurlo married first Joanna Pike daughter of John and Lydia (Coffin) Pike.
He married second Suanna Weed, widow of Ephriam Weed and daughter of John and Susanna (Page) Swett.
Massachusetts claimed jurisdiction of all lands west of the Merrimac River and continued its exercise of authority
until the final establishment by royal commission in 1740, of the present state boundaries.
In 1732, John Coffin and eighty other citizens of Newbury petitioned the General Court of Mass. for a "grant of land
situated on the west side of the Merrimack, adjoining the Penacook". (This area is now in New Hampshire). It was
granted a tract of seven miles square, to be laid out by a surveyor.... The order was issued Dec. 8, 1732
On Oct. 9, 1733, Thomas Thorla and others were on a committee to set the new town of Contoocook up to best advantage,
and to lay out the home lots. He was one of the Proprietors of the new town. He was one of the men who undertook to
build certain mills in the plantation.
On Sept. 6, 1737, a second division of lots was made, and Thomas Thorla and four others were appointed to make it.
On May 16, 1740, John Brown, Thomas Thorla and Joseph Gerrish were appointed to a committee to lay out a highway through
the town to Baker's town.
On Sept. 14, 1743, a third division of lots, 100 acres to each Proprietor, was made by a committee which included Thomas
Thomas was a Selectman of Contoocook in 1796 and 1797.
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Little is known of John Thurlo, son of Thomas and Joanna. He was born in Newbury, married Ruth Stevens and had 4 known
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Thomas Thorla, son of John, married Deliverance Owen. He served in the Revolution and is mentioned in
"Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War", a Compilation from the Archives, prepared and published by
the Secretary of the Commonwealth, 1907.
"Thomas Thurlo - Newburyport; Private, Lieut. John Brickett's troop of horse, which marched April 20, 1775 in response to
the alarm of April 19, 1775, to headquarters at Cambridge; service 4 days; reported returned home."
"Thomas Thurlo - Corporal, Capt John Noyes' company, Col. Samuel Johnson's regt; entered service Aug. 14, 1777; discharged
Nov. 30, 1777; service 3 mo. 28 days in Northern department, incl. 12 days (240 mi.) travel home."
"Thomas Thorla - Corporal, Capt. Stephen Jenkin's co., Capt Jacob Gerrish's regt; entered service Oct. 14, 1779; discharged
Nov. 22; 1779; service, 1 mo. 20 days at Claverack, including travel (240 mi.) home; regiment detached from militia of
Suffolk and Essex Cos. to reinforce army under Gen. Washington."
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Belle Valley was laid out on the farm of Benjamin Thorla. He started the first store there in 1872 and was the first
postmaster, 1872. Sarahville was surveyed and plotted 19 June, 1829 by Benjamin
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WILL OF BENJAMIN THORLA
Noble County, Ohio February 15th 1856
In the name of God Amen. I Benjamin Thorla being of sound mind, memory and impressed with the great uncertainty of
life and the certainty of death and being desirous of disposing of my temporal affairs so that after my death no
contrition may arise relative to the same.
Therefore: I Benjamin Thorla of the County of Noble and state of Ohio, do make, ordain, publish and declare this my
last will and testimate revoking all other wills by me heretofore made.
First; I bequeath my body to the dust whence it comes and my soul to God who gave it hoping for a happy immortality
through the atoning merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. Secondly; That all my just debts to be paid
out of my personal and real estate by my executor.
Thirdly; That I bequeath to my beloved wife all my property bouth personal and real her neacheral lifetime if she outlives
me. Fourthly; -- my deth and my beloved wifes deth, I bequeath to my son Benton Thorla ----- all my property bouth personal
and real, the real estate lying and being in Noble Township Noble County, Ohio, it being (180) one hundred and eighty acres,
after paying my son Marshal Thorla (25) twenty five dollars and each one of my daughters fifty dollars.
First Malvina Willey fifty dollars, Emily Willey fifty dollars, Allas Willey fifty dollars, Della Parrish fifty
dollars, Herat Sprigg fifty dollars, Elizabeth Smith fifty dollars and Safrona Patterson fifty dollars.
Fifthly; ---- it is my request that my son Benton Thorla stay on the farm with his mother that I reside on at this time,
if she outlives me during her lifetime.
Lastly; I appoint my son Benton Thorla my whole and sole executor to this my last will and testement and direct that no
security be required of him for the faithful execution and discharge of the trust hereby rep------ him.
The testimony whereof I have this 15th day of February one thousand eight hundred and fifty six hereunto set my hand
and affixed my seal hereby revoking all wills heretofore made by me. Benjamin Thorla (seal)
And in the presence of
Be it remembered that at a term of the Probate Court in and for the county of Noble and state of Ohio, on
the 12th day of July in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty one, this following journal entry was
made, which ----- -----is in the w--- ---- figures following, to wit, This day the last will and testament of Benjamin
Thorla late of Noble Township in Noble County, Ohio deceased was proclaimed in open court by Benton Thorla the executor
in said will named and Oliver Keyser and George Burlingame subscribing witnesses to said will appeared and in open court
on oath testified to the due execution of said will, which testimony was ------- to writing and by them respectfully
subscribed and filed for the said will.
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Silas Thorla from Mass. brought his family to his new home, where Olive is, in 1816. He had been here for about
two years, previously engaged in salt making. Mr. Thorla was a man of good general information and by profession
a surveyor. He was one of the early justices of peace and served also as a county surveyor of Morgan County.
Silas Thorla entered the land on which the village Olive now is and began salt making there in 1814. He had previously
been in the Kanawa Salt Works where he had worked long enough to learn the process and earn a little money with which
to make a beginning. At that time salt was worth $2.00 a bushel and the supply hitherto had been brought by the settlers
on pack horses from a great distance. By means of a spring-pole and rude apparatus operated entirely by hand a well was
dug about 200 feet deep. Its location was near the railroad at the north end of Olive close by the stream known as Salt Run.
A deer-lick much frequented in early years led to the discovery of salt water. The well was cased with wood tubing, a pump
put in and a blind horse as its motive power and the water was received in a number of troughs fashioned from the trunks
of large trees. For boiling the water all the kettles in the settlement that could be spared by their owners were borrowed
and put in use. The salt well was also a gas well, and oil well, and at times these products of the earth seriously
interfered with the process of salt manufacturing. Robert McKee, who had first worked for Thorla, and afterwards married
Thorla's sister and took an interest in the business, henceforth the establishment was known as McKee Salt Works.
Some of the Pennsylvania pioneers discovered oil while boring for salt. Such a discovery was made near Butler, PA in 1811.
Though Noble County can scarcely substantiate the claim which has advanced to having the oldest oil well in the world, her
title to the first in Ohio is indisputable for in a similar manner to the Pennsylvania discovery the Olive salt makers
struck oil while boring a salt well in 1814. In boring for salt in Olive in 1814 Silas Thorla and Robert McKee struck both
oil and gas, both of which the well continued to produce for as long as it was pumped for salt water. Gas pressure was
very powerful but much stronger at some times that at others. At intervals of a week or ten days the gas was forced so
rapidly from the well that water was thrown 40 feet or more into the air. After the "Blowing" had ceased there was not
sufficient pressure to force the water to the surface. While the gas was issuing from the well it was noticed that at a
creek nearby bubbles of gas were being forced up through the water. The current of gas was sufficiently strong to burn
steadily and brilliantly and on many a night it would blaze up 5 or 6 feet presenting the novel sight of a fire on top of
a stream of running water. The flow of oil was also found to be intermittent and at times the oil was pumped from the well
and thrown away. Many barrels of it were thus thrown into the creek and wasted because it interfered with the salt making.
In the REPUBLICAN of July 7, 1870 the following reminiscence of one of the old time salt wells is related on the authority
of John McKee an aged pioneer. Mr. McKee states that he and a few others bored a well for salt water in the vicinity of
where Olive village now stands. Before they had reached the salt water they struck a vein of oil then known as British oil.
After passing through this oil vein a short distance salt water was reached, a pump put in and the manufacture of salt
begun. The company had no furnace but instead they borrowed all the iron kettles on Duck Creek, arranged them in double
rows and made salt sufficient to supply the inhabitants of this thinly settled region. The fires under the kettles were
never allowed to go out but blazed brightly day and night, some member of the company attending to them each night.
Sufficient salt water was pumped during the day to supply the watcher at night. One night it fell to the lot of Robert
Caldwell to run the machine. Everything went well with him until nearly morning, when he found the water nearly exhausted
and had to pump more. For this purpose he mounted a platform made of puncheons to reach the spring-pole. This brought him
8 to 10 feet above the ground and almost directly over the well. In order to have light upon his work he carried some
blazing coals on a piece of hickory bark. But ere his task was half completed a live coal fell through the floor very
near to the well, quite near enough to ignite the gas from the well. Mr. Caldwell said he saw a ball of fire rise upward
while timbers cracked and irons rattled and his hair stood on end. Slowly this ball ascended being fully as large as a
haycock until it reached the highest branches of hickory tree standing near and when it exploded making a noise equal to
the loudest thunder. The noise was heard for 5 miles in every direction. Old Mr. Thorla who owned most of the salt well
was sleeping at Col. Caldwell's a half mile distant. He heard the report and hastened to the spot and was most agreeably
surprised to find all well. Robert Caldwell was not hurt but a worse scared man was never seen on Duck Creek.
WILL OF SILAS THURLO 3 JULY, 1821 MORGAN CO., OH
In the name of God Amen. I Silas Thurlo of Morgan County and State of Ohio Being weak in body but of sound and perfect
mind and memory. Blessed be Almighty God for the same, do make and publish this my last will and Testament in manner
and form following: that is to say. First I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Susanna Thurlo all my Real and
personal Estate so long as she shall live, subject to the following restrictions and legacies. First if she shall
ever marry to hold only one third of my real estate and the household furniture of my personal estate. Secondly to my
Executors to rent out my half of the salt works as they see fit, until all my just debts is paid after collecing my
debts and selling what personal property they shall see fit to share. 3rd. After my debts is paid to give to each one
of my daughters a large Bible that is to say Ruth McKee, Susanna Sweatt, Delia McKee, Rhoda Thurlo, & Louisa Thurlo and
if my dear wife should die before Rhoda or Louisa is married they or either of them in that case to have as good fitting
out as either of my daughters that is married, and that my dear wife is to what and how she sees fit any of my personal
property and the income of my real estate between my children and after her decease my real estate and what personal
property she shall have undisposed of to be divided equally between my sons, that is to say John Thurlo, Daniel Thurlo,
Benjamin Thurlo, & Silas Thurlo. Also I request my Executors to give to the support of my Father & Mother if they ever
should come to want in proportion with Benjamin & Richard Thurlo their sons a comfortable living and I do appoint my
beloved wife Susanna Thurlo & Robert McKee whom I hereby appoint sole executrix & executor of this my last will and
testament hereby revoking all former wills by me made in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this
third day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty one. sighed sealed published and
declared by the above Silas Thurlo in the presence of us who have hereunto subscribed our names witnesses in the
presence of the testator. Silas Thurlo, Nathan Smith, Erastus Hoskins
MORE NOTES ON SILAS THORLA
In 1814 salt sold for $2.00 a bushel. Silas, using a springpole, "drilled" a well about 200 feet deep. The well was
centered on a spring from which salt water, oil and gas flowed. A hollowed out Sycamore tree was used as a casing
to keep water from flowing into the well. The casing apparently extended about 30 feet below the surface and the well
penetrated more than 200 feet. A pump was installed and a blind horse provided the motive power by walking in a circle.
The water was fed into a number of wooden troughs and directed to a number of large kettles. Apparently the whole
community was involved in this project as every one seems to have donated their unused kettles and took turns watching
the fire at night.
The Thorla-McKee Salt works were in operation for twenty years and most of the trees in the neighborhood were cut down
in the process. Neaby salt works were opened in the 1860's when salt was again scarce and selling for about $5.00 a
During the operation of the Olive Salt Works, gas and oil were periodically mixed into the salt water. At first the
gas was burned and the oil discarded. Several residents apparently tried to use the oil as lamp fuel, but its high
sulpher content produced black soot and smelled bad. At one point the local boys set fire to the oil floating on
top of the water of a nearby stream. The resulting blaze was a half a mile long and must have been quite impressive
to the residents.
Some of the locals dipped their blankets into the oil and collected it in bottles. This mixture of oil and water was
sold as Seneca Oil, which cured whatever might be wrong with you.
Silas has also written an article which accounts his experience as a maple sugar maker. He was also a photographer
and made crude whiskey which was sold in Zaneville, Ohio as "Old Thorla".
Report to Proprietors of Errol meeting in Hampton Falls, NH by Wm. Plummer. "Silas Thorla has a log house covered with
spruce bark, (--) barn forty-eight feet long and thirty three feet wide; has cleared forty or fifty acres; has a
number of acres of good wheat & rye growing; his fences have appearance of a negligent husbandman. Has a wife, one son,
& 4 daughters.
In 'The Descendants of John & Abigail Thurlo', there's a copy of a record from "Sheriff's Office, Noble County, OH.
T.M. Thurlow, Sheriff dated Caldwell,Ohio, Oct 30, 1905. "Record of Children of Silas & Susanna Thurlow". Lists 10
children. Notes Silas Thurlow born in Newbury, Massachusetts January 31, 1775. Susanna Thurlow was born in Baseumb,
New Hampshire December 23rd, 1778. Age 76 Died in 1852.
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Richard Thorla, one of the pioneers of the township (Brookfield) was born in Newburyport, Mass. Oct. 13, 1791. When he
was a child his parents moved to New Hampshire where he lived until 1815. In that year in company with William McAllister
and family he came to Marietta. In 1817 he married Camilla McAllister and settled on the Ohio River about a mile above
the mouth of Duck Creek. In 1818 with two of the McAllisters, William and his son James, he visited Illinois going down
the Ohio and up the Mississippi in a pirogue as far as the mouth of the Kaskaskia. They were not pleased with the country
or the climate and started for home crossing the Wabash at Vinaennes and making their way toward the bend. Before they
reached the Ohio, William McAllister died and was buried by his son and son-in-law in Hartford, Ohio County, Indiana.
The younger McAllister and Thorla eventually reached home though suffering greatly from the disease caused by the
malarious climate to which they had exposed themselves. In 1819 Thorla entered a quarter section of land on Dye's
Fork in Brookfield and in 1823 removed to it with his wife and family of two children. He died in 1859 at the age of 68.
His widow died in 1878, aged 86.
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MISCELLANEOUS THORLA DATA
Isaac Thorla, 26, enlisted 5 Oct., 1861 Co. I 62nd OVI.
Mustered out 5 Dec. 1864
McDonald Thorla, 18, enlisted 26 June, 1861. Appointed Corpl. 1 June, 1866 Co. I 25th OVI. Mustered out with company.
Silas Thorla, 18, enlisted 6 July, 1863. Mustered out with company.
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